Over the last month and a half, Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet has operated solely with its Sukhoi Superjet100 fleet. Since the coronavirus crisis began, Interjet has returned 59 Airbus airplanes to leasing companies and has only kept seven, all of them parked. What will happen with Interjet? Let’s investigate further.
A Sukhoi fleet for the current crisis
During May, Interjet operated flights to six destinations from Mexico City. It did these flights with only three Sukhoi Superjets. The carrier flew to Cancún, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, and Mérida. All these operations are under two and a half hours of flight time, which is important to keep in mind.
Interjet has a fleet of 22 Sukhoi airplanes, but more than 50% of it hasn’t flown since 2018. It was widely known that Interjet was trying to get rid of its Russian-built fleet after years of disarrays. In January, the airline confirmed to Simple Flying that it was moving on to an Airbus-based fleet.
So, when the coronavirus crisis hit, Interjet had a problem. It started losing its Airbus fleet to leasing companies and closed its international operations. But, as we know, Mexico kept its skies open, so Interjet kept some routes open. To do it, Interjet brought its Sukhoi fleet back from the ground.
There will be no new Airbus for Interjet
At the beginning of the year, Interjet had a fleet of 66 Airbus aircraft and 22 Sukhoi Superjet100.
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Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic arrived soon after and hit Interjet hard. The carrier has returned 59 Airbus airplanes to more than ten leasing companies. As of 15 January, Interjet has six Airbus A320-200 and one A321neo. But also, the company was due to receive a few new A321neo.
In the last few weeks, four A320neos with Interjet liveries have been spotted in Hamburg doing flight tests. But, while these airplanes have the colors of the low-cost Mexican carrier, they don’t have a Mexican registration. The leasing companies put, instead, the registrations of their countries of origin. While the airline hasn’t announced any news regarding delays or cancellations of its Airbus order, there are suggestions that these airplanes will not land in Mexico.
Will the Airbus fleet return?
Interjet keeps close to the vest everything related to its current and future operations. The carrier no longer publishes neither its monthly traffic figures nor its quarterly results.
In June, the low-cost carrier is operating 14 routes. It added flights to Veracruz, Huatulco, Chetumal, Ciudad del Carmen, Villahermosa, Acapulco, Mazatlán, and Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Again, all these flights are under two and a half hours away from Mexico City so that the Sukhoi Superjets can operate them with no range restrictions (due to the altitude of Mexico City).
According to sources in Interjet, the airline expects to relaunch its Airbus operation with five aircraft. As we stated before, Interjet currently has seven, including one A321neo, that could return to the leasing companies in the next days.
In the following months, Interjet plans to ramp up its operations and expects to have up to 40 Airbus airplanes back at some point.
Whether that number will be accurate or not remains to be seen. What has already happened is that six former Interjet Airbus planes have new registrations. General Electric leasing company, or GECAS, already registered these six aircraft in the Cayman Islands. It is safe to assume that these units will not return to Interjet. And, for the time being, Interjet is ramping up its operations with its Sukhoi fleet. Did the Russian airplanes get a second chance in Mexico?
Do you want to fly the Sukhoi airplanes of Interjet? Have you done it already? Let us know in the comments.